my father in law is devoted to San Gerardo, so we surprised him with a morning out at this sanctuary followed by a nice meal in a simple "old school" restuarant which was within a stone's throw of the church. We were taken to our table by the owner and bought a bottle of sparkingling water - then we were offered the menu. The owner described the food on offer but as the meal continued we noticed that he had not mentioned all of what he was serving which did leave us a little perplexed as some of the dishes would have been more suitalbe for a special day out for my father in law, especially the dishes based on salt cod or baccala, none of these were mentioned to us - the order was taken quite hurriedly and we also noticed that the bottle of wine that was bought to our table was cold although red, and a cork was placed on the top - it was not a bottle that was opened at the table, albeit one that had already been opened, i took about half a glass and then stopped drinking as it was not to my liking at all. We like good wine and would like to have been asked if we would have preferred to have ordered a more superior bottle rather than the house red.
One other thing that left my husband and I a little perplexed was the fact that a couple of tables that come in after us were served before us, a few of these clients were know to the owner, acceptable behaviour up to a certain point and this was ok as we had time on our hands but it did mean that we waited longer than average periods between courses, also because there was a party of around 30 diners being served at the same time as us.
BUT LET ME GET TO THE FOOD -THIS IS WHERE YOU CANNOT GO WRONG, the food that we were served was very good, homely, handmade and well cooked.
The anti pasto of cured meats was good, hand cut parma ham, capocollo, salame and also a small mozzarella which was very fresh and obviously local to the area.
The two pasta dishes were served simply, with tomatoe sauce but the ravioli were hand made and also the fusilli, nothing was shop bought or mass produced, this was obviously done on site and cooked al dente not pre cooked.
I had a very delicious plate of sauteed broccoli rape and beets, all tossed with a sweet pepper called crusca typical to the region.
For our mains we had lamb, i had the grilled trout and my husband had ordered a veal steak but the steak that he was bought was actually beef - it was also of a strange cut which was delicious but also quite fatty, giving lots of flavour but not a good aspect on the plate and subsequently the portion was reduced in size due to the parts of the steak that he could not eat.
We were offered two sides of salad and chips but when we noticed other tables had other sides that we had not beenoffered, we re ordered mashed potatoes with peppers and also another side of sauteed mixed greens, again very tastey.
Deserts, zuppa inglese x 2, made with biscuits and not sponge cake as tradition would have it, but nice with both chocolate and vanilla cream - and the my husband had a desert made with chantilly cream and puff pastry, we had 4 coffees, 3 liquors made in house again good - and the bill was also fair at 74euros - basically 25 a head which is the average price for this town as the competition is high and subsequently everyone tends to stick to the same pricing.
I WOULD HAVE PAID 30 EUROS A HEAD IF I HAD BEEN OFFERED THE COMPLETE MENU AS THIS WAS A TRIP THAT I HAD MADE FOR MY FATHER IN LAW AND I WANTED IT TO BE SPECIAL, the food lived up to expectations in taste as i had read the reviews on Trip advisor and knew that this place was simple but, if we had been given the same options sl some of the other diners, or the service was done fairly, or even my husband's meat was a what he had ordered or the beef that arrived was a nice cut and not obviously something just thrown in a grill, then i would not have touched upon the negatives - this place has been here for a long time and it will be here well into the future, but if they want to guarantee custom and create a clientelle when the hustle and bustle of the summer months and the festivity of the Patron Saint is over in October then they have to work at repeat business and try to create a fixed following and not just live for the moment.
I do not know if i would come back again, the food was good but the rest did not add up - the waiter was amazingly nice, but due to the fact that our order was not taken in the best interests by the owner, who again was very busy, i do not think we will return.
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